July 30, 2006

Ford Should Build Flexible Fueled, Plug in Hybrids

From the Ford Bold Moves: Documenting the Future of Ford website comes a point/counterpoint set of two articles soliciting reader opinions on whether Ford should focus its immediate attention on developing flex-fuel, plug-in hybrid technology or fuel cells and hydrogen.

If you read an article posted here April 3, titled Plug-in Partners National PHEV Initiative you'll already know this blog's answer to that question. It is good to read an expert's opinion on the subject. Below are some excerpts:


Ford Should Build Flexible Fueled, Plug in Hybrids
by David Morris

When Ford introduces its flexible fueled Escape hybrid, two-thirds of the technological foundation for an oil free future will be in place. The final piece? Enabling the grid system to recharge the hybrid's batteries.

Today's hybrids reduce gasoline consumption by 25-30 percent. That is a worthy achievement in its own right. But plug-in hybrids could decrease gasoline consumption by 50-80 percent. Why? Because electric motors are inherently more efficient than internal combustion engines, and because only 4 percent of our electricity is generated by oil.

Add an engine powered by biofuels and Ford could virtually eliminate the use of oil in its vehicles.

Biofuels have their own Achilles heel. The planet could grow only enough plant matter to supply 25-30 percent of our transportation energy, no matter what the feedstock.

A plug-in hybrid with a biofueled engine overcomes this shortcoming. Electricity will become the primary propulsion force. The amount of engine fuel can drop by two-thirds, or more. Sufficient land area is available to grow the biomass needed to supply 100 percent of this reduced consumption, without diminishing our food supply.

A flexible fueled, plug-in hybrid strategy could yield dramatic short-term results. The electricity distribution system is in place. The nation has sufficient off-peak electricity capacity to power more than 20 million vehicles without building a single new power plant. Converting a Ford Escape to a plug-in hybrid does not require technological breakthroughs.

Six million flexible fueled cars are currently on the road. The incremental cost to Ford of making a flexible fueled car might be as little as $100. Such a tiny cost should encourage the government to require all new vehicles be flexible fueled starting in 2009.

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